Throwback Thursday: Mervyn Kitchen

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Mervyn Kitchen was born, went to school and played cricket for the county he has grown to epitomise.

Born in Nailsea in 1940  Mervyn, who was a great favourite with the crowds, attended Backwell School and from a young age played for his local village side with his father.

His talents were spotted by Bill Andrews, the County’s illustrious coach and Mervyn was taken onto the Somerset playing staff in 1957.

For the first three years of his time at Taunton, the young left hander’s appearances were restricted to playing for Somerset in the Minor Counties competitions where he scored heavily and helped the county to win the Minor County Championship for the first time ever.

His break came in 1960 when he made his first team debut for Somerset against Middlesex at Lord’s. However, the County were well served by batsmen at that time and it wasn’t until 1966 that he really established himself.  That season he scored his first century for Somerset against Sussex at Eastbourne which he followed up with an unbeaten 111.  At the end of the summer he topped the County’s batting averages  with 1422 at 27.88.

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The left hander made his career best of 189 against Pakistan at Taunton in 1967, when he also topped a 1000 runs in the Championship again, and the following summer he enjoyed the best return of his long career.  In 29 Championship games in 1968 he made 1730 runs, which included five centuries and a best 161 not out at an average of 36.04.

After enjoying a testimonial in 1973 he took a break from cricket for the 1975 season.  He returned to play for a further four seasons in 1976, by which time the breed of younger players who Somerset had been developing under the watchful eye of Brian Close were starting to make their own mark.

The man from Nailsea eventually called it a day at the end of the 1979 season and went on to become a well respected and liked First Class cricket umpire, officiating in 20 Test matches and 28 ODI’s before retiring at the age of 65 in 2005.

Mervyn remains involved with the game as a mentor for newly appointed First Class umpires.

Between 1960 and 1979 he played in 352 First Class matches for Somerset in which he scored 15213 runs, including 17 centuries at an average of 26.41. He topped 1000 runs in a season on seven occasions.

In List A cricket he played in 172 matches and scored 3388 runs at an average of 22.43.